Hamady Nâ€™Diaye just completed his senior season as the starting center for the Rutgers University basketball team. To top off that accomplishment, he was named the Big East Conferenceâ€™s Defensive Player of the Year. And, as he prepares for the National Basketball Association draft next month, he can reflect on the long road that brought him to this pinnacle.
Nâ€™Diaye was born and raised in Dakar, Senagal. Like much of the youth there he primarily played soccer growing up. But as he grew taller, he was drawn to basketball. Finally, at the age of 17, he left his family and friends and went overseas to a preparatory school in New Jersey. He was finally joined by a couple of his childhood friends from Dakar, and the three of them relocated to a prep school in Florida. However, the facilities there were so meager that there were not enough beds, and not even enough money for food for the kids. The situation was so bad that Hamady and his friends escaped, literally in the middle of the night, and rejoined their old coach from Dakar at a preparatory school in California. That is where Hamady and his friends blossomed on the basketball court, becoming top college prospects, and Hamady ended up back in New Jersey at Rutgers University.
Nâ€™Diaye has worked hard at his craft. â€œThis kid in my 28 years, Iâ€™ve not seen a kid develop and come as far as he hasâ€¦â€ his coach Fred Hill told the New Jersey Newsroom. But his hard work has not been limited to the basketball court. Having come to this country without knowing English, he spent up to 10 hours a week at Rutgers working with tutors on honing his reading and writing of English. He even became a communications major. The gregarious Nâ€™Diaye, known simply as â€œHâ€ by his friends, has become one of the most popular people, not only on the team but on campus as a whole. Perhaps this helped to fill the void of not seeing his family since he left Senegal. But that finally changed when his mother was able to come to the U.S. and see him play for the first time at the teamâ€™s final home game this past March.
Now, the 7 foot tall Hamady prepares for his next challenge, the National Basketball Association. He is currently projected as a second round pick by most experts. But that is just a foot in the door. With his work ethic, and enduring spirit, that will be all he needs, inshallah, to continue his success.